Posts Tagged ‘commemorations’

David Cameron to boycott Moscow’s WWII commemorations in protest over Ukraine crisis

March 12th, 2015

The Prime Minister’s Deputy Official Spokesman said: “We will be considering our representation in light of our ongoing discussions with Russia, and our concerns about their activity.

“We don’t have plans for the Prime Minister to attend, and I’m sure we will set out who will represent the government in due course.”

“We would consider our representation within our broader ongoing relationship with Russia. Recently, there have not been ministerial visits, and we will take that into account when we consider who attends.”

Vladimir Putin had sent invitations to the parade to a host of world leaders, but has been met with refusals from the Presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the German Chancellor. President Obama has also refused, citing a tight schedule. Mrs Merkel will attend a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier the following day.

In a re-emergence of old Cold War loyalties, the leaders of Vietnam, Serbia, the Czech Republic, China and North Korea are expected to attend.

“It will not affect the spirit, the emotional aspect and the scale of the holiday,” Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman said earlier, said of the apparent boycott.

Russian servicemen march during the Victory Day Parade in Moscow’s Red Square

Victory Day ranks among the most important days in the Russian calendar, with more than 20 million Soviet citizens killed in the war, and is marked with a mass parade of tanks, troops and missiles on Red Square in Moscow and the overflight of dozens of jets and bombers.

It falls on May 9 – the day after Britain marks Victory in Europe Day, and two days after the General Election is held.

This year’s event is likely to be highly politicised and feature the largest display of military hardware in years, including a newly formed aerobatics team named Crimean Wings.

Russian media daily compares the fighting in Ukraine to the Second World War, with claims that the Ukrainian government is a “Fascist junta” and warnings that Jewish people are in danger. The orange and black Ribbon of St George, widely associated with the Great Patriotic War, has been adopted as a symbol of the separist fighters.

David Cameron last visited Russia for the G20 summit in St Petersburg. That saw Mr Cameron launching an impassioned defence of Britain after it was dismissed by a Russian official as “just a small island”.

In 1995, during the post-Cold War thaw, John Major and Bill Clinton attended commemorations in Moscow to mark fifty years since the end of the war. In 2005, John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, represented Britain alongside President Bush. Tony Blair sent apologies, having only days before won a third general election.

Better times: Welsh Guards in Red Square on Victory Day, 2010

In 2010, Nato troops from Britain, France, Poland the US marched alongside 10,000 Russians.

The EU has imposed sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, on some 151 people and 37 entities, in response to the assault on Ukrainian sovereignty. The Foreign Secretary this week warned that Russia, which is rapidly modernising its military, as at risk of becoming the single greatest threat to British national security.

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Kim Jong-un agrees to attend Vladimir Putin’s war commemorations

January 14th, 2015

The invitation was extended by Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and will be the young dictator’s first overseas trip since he became head of state after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in December 2011.

Korea was under Japanese rule before and during the Second World War. The Soviet Union declared war on Japan in August 1945, after Japan’s ally Adolf Hitler had been defeated, and launched an invasion of northern Korea.

South Korean government sources have confirmed that Mr Kim will travel to Moscow in May, according to Yonhap News, as Pyongyang tries to simultaneously build better trade and security links with Russia and to convince Beijing to drop its recent hard-line stance against the regime.

China has distanced itself from the rulers of the hermit state since the regime carried out a third underground nuclear test in February 2013.

Despite sanctions and unprecedented international pressure, North Korea has since carried out a series of ballistic missile tests and demanded that United Nations sanctions be lifted.

Beijing will be keen to ensure, however, that Moscow does not step into the breach and provide the isolated North Korea with the trade and diplomatic and security support required to keep the regime functioning.

Leaders from around the world will have been carefully considering their invites from Mr Putin to the May 9 ceremonies, even before Mr Kim’s acceptance. The international community is still putting up a united front over Moscow’s actions in the Crimea and Ukraine.

Learning that they will have to share a podium with Mr Kim – who is likely to be named in a resolution put to the United Nations Security Council for North Korea to be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity – is likely to convince the vast majority to mark the occasion of the end of the war elsewhere.

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D-Day anniversary: Queen ‘stirred’ by commemorations

June 6th, 2014

On the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings the Queen travelled to the French coast with the Duke of Edinburgh, and spent the day with other heads of state honouring the actions of veterans and their fallen comrades.

Later at a banquet to mark her three-day state visit to France, the monarch described how the day’s commemorations had left Philip and herself “filled with emotions”.

She added: “With sorrow and regret, remembering the loss of so many fine young soldiers, sailors and airmen; with pride, at the sheer courage of the men who stormed those beaches, embodied in the veterans among us; and with thankfulness, knowing that today our nations are free and sovereign because allied forces liberated this continent from occupation and tyranny.

“Knitted together by common experiences of struggle, sacrifice and reconciliation, we remember those times in a way that strengthens unity and understanding between us.”

In her address at the Elysee Palace banquet staged in her honour by President Francois Hollande, the Queen, who delivered parts of her speech in French, sounded a note of caution.

She said: “Our peace and prosperity can never be taken for granted and must constantly be tended, so that never again do we have cause to build monuments to our fallen youth.”

The Queen made three “observations” during her address telling the guests “the true measure of all our actions is how long the good in them lasts”.

The monarch went on to say that “everything we do, we do for the young”.

The Queen was dressed in a full beaded bodice with sleeves in brilliant Diamante and her skirt was draped across the front in white chiffon.

She wore the Queen Mary tiara, the Queen Victoria necklace with matching earrings and the French order, red sash and badge.

The guests dined on foie gras, served with Sauternes jelly and truffle aspic, followed by Spring saddle of Sisteron lamb and garden vegetables, and for dessert was Bourbon vanilla ice cream with wild strawberries and pink Champagne sorbet.

Roblechon and Comte cheese was also served, along with a full bodied Bordeaux white wine.

Sources: Reuters/PA

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